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So I'm doing some research on Nitrates since my tank has been staying steady at about 20ish ppm. Its a little hard to tell the color differences for the API master test kit, looks about 20, maybe 40? So what is an acceptable level. I'm seeing a lot of people say 0-20 and I'm also seeing people claim that it doesn't matter what the level is. What do you guys keep your tanks at? The tank in question is a semi planted 29 gallon with three juvenile blood parrots and about 4 nerite snails. All other values are testing perfect.
Ammonia-0
Nitrite-0
Ph- 7.5
 

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I tend to keep mine around 20ppm after a water change and they go back up to around 40ppm over the week. Ideally, 0-20ppm would be achieved. But that may not be plausible. I do believe they are important to keep in check though, like anything else. I wouldn't put fish in a tank with 160ppm nitrate.

I was able to achieve ~10ppm nitrate after heavily planting a tank.
 

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For most tropical fish species, under 40 ppm is considered acceptable, but more preferably under 30 ppm.
For Discus, Angels, Cardinal Tetras, certainly not more than 20 ppm, but preferably under 10 ppm.
 

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If the pH is slightly acid, the plants will preferentially choose Ammonium over Nitrates, takes less energy for them to process.
I should put ammonium in my tank for better plant growth?
 

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I should put ammonium in my tank for better plant growth?
You can try if you have no fish or if you like you fish upside down.

Technically, yes, the plants will consume ammonium before anything else. That is one of the reasons why we consider plants to be a natural filter.

Practically, you really do not want any measurable ammonia in a tank with any live critters.
 

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Hold on a sec...please correct me if I am wrong. According to my online readings (not sure how credible the information is since it comes from other people in the forums) when using API test kit for nitrate we have to divide our readings by 4.4

So, if your test kit reads 20pppm, you really have about 4.5 ppm in the tank.

Is this true, do we have to divide our results by 4.4?

Here's where I read this:

http://www.aquariumadvice.com/forums/f14/total-nitrate-vs-nitrate-nitrogen-220902.html
 

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If one has planted their tank with enough plant's ,and plant's are growing/thriving,then biggest worry will be providing enough nitrogen (Nitrates).
In fish only tank's, I am on board with discusPaul and have found that 50% weekly water changes keep the level's low assuming the tank's aren't grossly over fed or over stocked.
 

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I should put ammonium in my tank for better plant growth?
As the rest of the respondents have mentioned, Ammonia should never be dosed to tank stocked with fish.. ever!

The thing is, fish are always excreting urea, which in it's first biological breakdown reaction, changes to ammonia. There is no such thing as 'Ammonium' outside of ammonia in solution with water. It has a lot to do with complex molecular weak bonding, electron transfers, and hydroxyl and oxygen ions. If it interests you, you should take some 2 Year College biology courses, focusing on water biology, if they aren't teaching it in high school. Some Chemistry wouldn't hurt either.

I only mentioned ammonium because in soft, slightly acid water tanks, ammonia ions are present in far greater percentages as ammonium ions, which are not caustic to fish gills, and the plants will prefer to use it over nitrates.

This is not something you should ever experiment with! It's just a natural by-product of the breakdown of the ever present fish, microbiological and plant wastes. In a healthy tank, with good plant growth these levels of Ammonia/Ammonium are at very small levels, you would have to have fairly alkaline tank water and some pretty bad tank husbandry to end up with high, ( i.e. fish damaging..) ammonia ion levels.
 

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I find there are lots more things to read and confuse me than I can sort through, at times. So I have to look at what I find and figure out what to believe and what not. We all have different tanks, different water and different levels of the way we read the tests so there is going to be a difference in the results.
A big step for me was finding the API liquid test is not usable in my water once I get much past 10-20PPM. It just goes off scale! I now use the test strips which give me the best reading at the levels my tanks normally run. But that also gives me reason to doubt what my actual levels are much of the time. The choices seem to be that what I read about African cichlids needing super clean water is wrong or any test I've used is wrong. I've kept and bred 10-12 different groups of African's and the readings are often in the 80 and above level.
Eyes reading wrong, test sets wrong or fish that like dirty water? Somewhere there is a disconnect in the info I read so I now just go with keeping those readings in the "normal" range for my tanks and no longer worry the exact level. As long as it is where it always seems to be, that is good enough.
Fish and plants happy, I'm happy!!
 

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my best growing plant tank is a 5 gallon that I dose ammonia in.No fish of course,but I dose about .25 ml of 10% ammonium hydroxide each day to keep the tank cycled,or at least that's how it started.

that tank grows plants better than any tank I dose ferts in,and it just has the stock spec light on it.
 

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Hold on a sec...please correct me if I am wrong. According to my online readings (not sure how credible the information is since it comes from other people in the forums) when using API test kit for nitrate we have to divide our readings by 4.4

So, if your test kit reads 20pppm, you really have about 4.5 ppm in the tank.

Is this true, do we have to divide our results by 4.4?

Here's where I read this:

Total Nitrate VS Nitrate-Nitrogen - Aquarium Advice - Aquarium Forum Community
Different units. Test kits usually report milligrams of nitrate (NO3) per liter (ppm NO3) while the EPA and others talk about milligrams of N in the form of NO3 per liter (ppm N as NO3). Since the second unit doesn't include the weight of the oxygen atoms, dividing the first by 4.4 gets you the second. All the earlier comments in this thread seemed to be referring to mg NO3 per liter.
 

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As the rest of the respondents have mentioned, Ammonia should never be dosed to tank stocked with fish.. ever!

The thing is, fish are always excreting urea, which in it's first biological breakdown reaction, changes to ammonia. There is no such thing as 'Ammonium' outside of ammonia in solution with water. It has a lot to do with complex molecular weak bonding, electron transfers, and hydroxyl and oxygen ions. If it interests you, you should take some 2 Year College biology courses, focusing on water biology, if they aren't teaching it in high school. Some Chemistry wouldn't hurt either.

I only mentioned ammonium because in soft, slightly acid water tanks, ammonia ions are present in far greater percentages as ammonium ions, which are not caustic to fish gills, and the plants will prefer to use it over nitrates.

This is not something you should ever experiment with! It's just a natural by-product of the breakdown of the ever present fish, microbiological and plant wastes. In a healthy tank, with good plant growth these levels of Ammonia/Ammonium are at very small levels, you would have to have fairly alkaline tank water and some pretty bad tank husbandry to end up with high, ( i.e. fish damaging..) ammonia ion levels.
Ok, I understand. I won't put ammonia in the tank. I don't need to go to a special 2 years of school to prove a single point of not putting ammonia in the tank.

I have already lost too many fish due to having too much ammonia.

However something you may want to consider is that if you have Chloramines in your tap water and use a water conditioner to take out the chlorine, you will be left with just ammonia as a byproduct.

Since Chloramines are both ammonia and chlorine mixed together.

Certain product like prime can temporarily make the ammonia safe by deonizing it for like 24-48 hours which hopefully is enough time for the plants and biological filtration to fix it.
 
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